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The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs) Hardcover – 8 May 2008
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Thomas Dixon has written a remarkable history... His superb volume...is the single best study of the emergence of new moral and social terminology in the Victorian age... Imaginatively researched, carefully argued and finely written, this is a volume which scholars from a variety of disciplines will be able to engage, contest and build upon. (Frank M. Turner, British Journal for the History of Science)
Subtle, broad-ranging, and elegant...a compelling new interpretation of the intertwined histories of moral philosophy, natural science, and religious thought. This witty but weighty book has a great deal to offer both historians and literary critics. (Seth Koven, Victorian Studies)
The substance of the book is comprehensively researched...He brings it together cogently enough to tell a gripping story. The result is an effective and important contribution to our understanding of Victorian thought (John Skorupski, Times Literary Supplement)
The Invention of Altruism is extremely useful, illuminating not just the spread of the terminology of altruism, its paradoxes and ambiguities and the several concepts understood by different groups to be contained within it, but also the broader intellectual contexts of the late-nineteenth century. (Mark Blacklock, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century)
The Invention of Altruism is ambitious in scope, and full of suggestive discussion of important themes. (Jose Harris, London Review of Books)
Dixon's comprehensive study is to be welcomed as a major contribution to our understanding of the subject... The structure of the book is elegantly simple, and makes what might have been an intricate work highly readable and surprisingly easily navigable. (Professor Stuart Jones, Reviews in History)
Well-argued and compelling (Ilana Krausman Ben-Amos, American Historical Review)
this is certainly a book from which literary critics, as well as practitioners of a broad range of disciplines pertaining to intellectual history, will benefit greatly, both for the new light it casts on a key term in Victorian moral philosophy and its subtle and stimulating treatment of related historiographic issues (Gowan Dawson, Intellectual History Review)
Dixon does a splendid job of bringing to life a huge cast of characters and of marking out the subtle differences and hidden commonalities which animated the discussions. Anyone interested in Victorian thought will find it not only rewarding but delightful to spend some time with his book. (Leslie Armour, British Journal for the History of Philosophy)
The Invention of Altruism is a big book which imparts a great deal of information about people, books, ideas and politics. Its substantial and varied range of material is skilfully handled through Dixon's lucid style and clearly stated methodology. Certainly one of the real joys of this book is how - rather like George Eliot in her effort to make literary realism render the complex web of life - it values a whole cast of protagonists, minor as well as major. Canonical figures such as Darwin and Spencer are joined by others of widely varying visibility. ... The journey is exhilarating and revealing, and encompasses figures rarely met in intellectual histories...In addition, in his book's boundless curiosity in following 'altruism' beyond the writers who normally dominate intellectual histories...Dixon also shows that intellectual history can be strikingly good cultural history. (Carolyn Burdett, History Workshop Journal)
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